Tags: ohio | voting | registration | law

Ohio Settles Voter Registration Lawsuit

Monday, 13 Jan 2014 02:50 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

The state of Ohio has reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed to ensure that it is in compliance with federal voter registration laws, agreeing to take several actions in relation to voter roll maintenance.

The lawsuit, filed by Truth the Vote and Judicial Watch during the 2012 election cycle against Ohio election officials, complained that the state's voter rolls contained people who had died or had left the state, with some counties' rolls containing more voters than were registered.

To come into National Voter Registration Act compliance, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted agreed to take a long series of actions, Judicial Watch reported in a statement to Newsmax.

The actions will include participating in national programs to obtain out-of-state death information; to identify registered voters who have moved; to use state data to identify registered voters who move into Ohio; to allow voters to change their addresses online; and to keep a voter registration list available online for public access, among other steps.

The legal action actually began in February 2012, when Judicial Watch notified Ohio officials the state was violating sections of the NVRA. The lawsuit was filed in partnership with True the Vote in August.

Even before the lawsuit was filed, Husted was taking action to clean the rolls. A spokesman for the Republican election official told The Associated Press just after the lawsuit was filed that Husted had removed the names of more than 19,000 dead voters and hundreds of thousands of duplicates after he took office in January 2011.

"This settlement marks a milestone in the fight to make certain that voter rolls are being properly maintained across the state; helping to assure the public that the most basic principles of federal election law are being upheld; and helping to restore Ohioans' faith in the integrity of our voting system," True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said Ohio's election officials should be commended for reaching the settlement, which he said is the "first in the history of the National Voter Registration Act."

Failure to maintain election rolls "can lead to voter and election fraud," Fitton said.

"Under the terms of this groundbreaking settlement, the people of Ohio can now rest easier that their elections will be cleaner, beginning with the 2014 elections. The problem of dirty rolls is a nationwide problem, and Ohio's good-faith steps to address it can serve as a model for other states."

Other states have voter rolls with registrations for people ineligible to vote, and about a dozen states have been notified that they must clean up the lists or face legal action. A similar lawsuit has been filed against elections officials in Indiana.

Independent research by Pew Charitable Trusts in February 2012 revealed that 24 million active voter registrations, or one of every eight, are not longer valid or are inaccurate.

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